There are a wealth of fantastic books in the knitting world, and more than any other textile resource, I'm regularly reaching for stitch dictionaries to spurn creativity. My favorites aren't hard to spot from the bookshelf, visible by their haggard, dog eared, and sticky note filled pages. I find them excellent starting points for design work, and a fascinating insight into the mind of the author.
I'd like to regularly dig into some of my favorite stitch dictionaries here on the Twig & Horn blog, and talk about why they'll stay on my shelves for years. I recently got my hands on Norah Gaughan's Knitted Cable Sourcebook, and the only reason why it doesn't look marked and tattered is because I haven't owned it for long.
Norah is able to take a known cable motif, alter it slightly –– an eyelet here, a twisted stitch there –– and turn it into something uncommon. Most of the patterns in this book are unfamiliar, which for a cable exclusive book, is fairly remarkable.
The swatches below are a great example of Norah's ability to subtly fiddle with a similar motif to make something new. The two patterns are identical in composition, but the swatch on the left has a stockinette "O" in the center, and the crossed cables reverse orientation at the top.
Norah has a hat pattern in the book using the pattern to the left, and it looks so different in-pattern versus a flat swatch. These two motifs in particular had my brain churning with ideas while I was swatching. What if the center "O" was composed with seed stitch? What if the cable ribs were three stitches wide, instead of two?
As I alluded to in the beginning, stitch dictionaries function as a creative prompt versus a mapped template for my knitting. The insight into Norah's thought processes throughout this book is neat, and something I haven't seen in any other stitch dictionary. Norah's brain works much differently than mine, and I love getting a real peek at another designer's philosophy. Each chapter has at least one piece of education about tessellating cables together, stitch reversibility, or cable balance. For someone wanting to dip a toe into designing, this is something I wish I had years ago.
Next week I'll dig into another one of my favorites, the stitch dictionaries of Yoko Hatta, who publishes under the name Kazekobo. I'd love to hear about others' knitting reference preferences. Do you regularly keep stitch dictionaries around, or do you find more inspiration from knitting patterns?
I used Stone Wool Cormo in the Tobacco 01 colorway to knit these swatches